(Discover) Quantum computers variously rely on photons and/or exotic states of matter trapped in magnetic fields at mind-numbingly cold temperatures. So it’s easy to imagine that quantum computing will require an entirely new industrial base founded on novel technologies.
But there is another possibility: that quantum computers can work with electrons passing through transistor-like devices called quantum dots carved out of silicon. If that’s the case, the entire revolution can piggyback on the industrial base that supports current chip-manufacture.
Now this option looks a step closer thanks to the work of Anne-Marije Zwerver at Delft University of Technology in Denmark and colleagues, many at the research labs at U.S. chipmaker Intel, based in Hillsboro, Oregon. This group has fabricated nanoscale silicon transistors that can reliably process quantum information in ways that match specialist devices.
But the key breakthrough is that they have done this using industrial chip fabrication processes with a yield that is high enough to allow significant scalability. That paves the way for industrial-scale fabrication of quantum computing chips. “The feasibility of high-quality qubits made with fully-industrial techniques strongly enhances the prospects of a large-scale quantum computer,” says the team.